Mobility is a buzz word that is often used interchangeably with flexibility, however mobility is not just being flexible, but the ability to control your full range of motion and flexibility with proper muscle coordination patterns and awareness.
If you want to maximize performance and movement efficiency, mobility is a must! So, it’s not just about being flexible, but also being in control throughout your entire motion. You need to be able to own it. Here’s where implementing things like slow reps and isometrics come into play. Before you start to just move weight through a movement, you should be able to go through that movement in slow motion and be able to pause it at any point throughout it without deviation. If you can do this, you will reduce your risk of injury and overload and create a more fluid and efficient movement pattern.
Here are a few techniques and examples you can try:
Isometrics – I’m a huge fan of these! In gymnastics just about everything we did included being able to hold the movement position isometrically before being allowed to progress to the sexy stuff.
Example: The Back Extension – this is a movement I always see performed poorly in the gym. Most of the time I see a swing up with momentum. Try just holding your body at the top position for 5-10 seconds and see how it goes. You can try pausing this movement at any point in the arc and holding to see where you may have weakness. It’s a humbling experience and will really make you see what muscles you’re working, and what ones you aren’t.
10 Second Negatives – One of the greatest power lifters of all time, Ed Coan talked about these at a SWIS conference one year. He explained how you should be able to control every aspect of your squat throughout its entire motion.
Example: The Squat – a lot of people like to rush through this movement letting gravity push them through the negative. Try counting out a full 10 second negative with your squat keeping the motion constant and smooth. This will allow you to feel every little deviation and instability you may have. Guess what? The more stability you have, the more force you will be able to generate and the bigger your real lift will be.
Think of the Opposite – I encourage this with every movement in order to stimulate the full use of your stabilizers as well as help maximize the agonist contraction.
Example: The Bench Press – instead of just letting gravity push the bar down to your chest, think of pulling it down instead. Envision squeezing or rowing it through the negative. You’ll find a much smoother and solid movement, and actually get a nice explosive pop into your positive out of the bottom!
This video gives a contrast between the typical momentum rep, and isometric rep and a slow controlled rep.